"This is our time," Blane said. "When we're sitting in that stand, I talk to her about stuff. During school, she is busy with soccer and stuff, so when we're hunting it's just me and her."
Father-daughter time was the goal when they headed out on a soggy New Year's Day hunt, but the hunt ended with the two standing over a buck that has been green scored at more than 200 inches Boone & Crockett by Simmons Sporting Goods.
The pair of hunters headed out that afternoon early, following the elder Haygood's tenet to walk all the way to the box stand on the 1,100-acre property in Catahoula Parish he hunts.
"We walked about a mile to her stand," Blane Haygood said.
By the time the pair climbed into the stand, they were soaking wet. Kendall was nursing a cold, so her father was worried she would feel worse and pulled out a heater.
Another one of the lifelong hunter's rules of hunting is to keep noise to a minimum. That went out the window right off the bat.
"I have one of those buddy heaters, and I told Kendall that I was going to start it to dry out," Blane said. "I don't know if the bottle had a leak or what, but I lit that thing and it went 'poof!' I thought it was going to blow us up. I threw it on the floor, and it made all kinds of noise.
"I said, 'Well, there goes our hunt. We're not going to see any deer, Baby.'"
Nonetheless, they stuck it out.
Blane took up position on a chair that squeaked every time he moved, so the actual hunting was left up to Kendall. The West Monroe High School 10th grader kept a vigil at the stand's window, and it didn't take long before deer were moving around.
A couple of yearlings were down the shooting lane from the stand, but finally Kendall was forced to open the window about 4:45 p.m. so she could really see what was going on.
"I had to open up the window because it had rain drops on it," she said.
What she saw as she eased the window out of the way stunned her: A huge buck was walking out about 80 yards away.
"All I saw was him coming out from the left side," Kendall said. "I looked at his horns, and he was huge."
She whispered to her dad that a big buck was in front of her, but the elder Haygood couldn't even look because to do so would set off the old chair in which he was sitting.
Blane Haygood only allows nice bucks to be shot, so he was forced to allow Kendall to make the call.
"I asked if it was a shooter buck, and she said it was," Blane said. "I said, 'If you say he's a shooter buck, I trust you.'"
But as the young hunter moved her .243 into position out the window, it clanged against the stand. Blane figured the deer would be gone, but the massive deer just turned its head to look toward the stand.
Kendall didn't allow any time for the buck to process the noise; she put her eye to the scope and readied her shot.
"He was standing there broadside," she said. "I could see the big old antlers. I didn't know it was as big as it was; I looked at (the antlers) and tried to get the shot."
Quickly, she settled the crosshairs and squeezed the trigger while her father coached her through the process.
The buck fell right there.
"She said, 'I got him!'" Blane said. "I got up out of the chair, but when I looked he had his head down so I couldn't see it. I said, 'That's a little bitty old deer you killed.'"
And then the animal raised it's head.
"I said, 'Oh, do not let him get away,'" Blane said.
Kendall carefully watched the deer to ensure it didn't get up, and soon the buck was down for good.
The now-excited father-daughter team slipped out of the stand and eased up to the buck. They couldn't believe what they found.
"I had a smile on my face," Kendall said.
Her father, on the other hand, was wild.
"My dad was jumping up and down, and giving me high-fives," Kendall said. "It made me smile even more."
The rack on the animal's head was just massive, sporting 16 scorable points and two more that were too short to be taped. The smallest base on the rack was 5 1/2 inches around, but the main beams were palmated and the third circumference measurements was no less than 9 1/2 inches, according to taxidermist Marshall Poindexter.
"It's crazy, man," Poindexter said. "It looks like a moose."
Simmons Sporting Goods scored it at 201 7/8 inches, while TP Outdoors tagged it at 192 2/8 inches.
The kill made Kendall Haywood a bit of a celebrity at West Monroe High School, where friends passed around the photo and one of teacher who is a die-hard hunter could only stand gap-jawed when told about the deer.
But killing such a trophy hasn't slowed her up — she's already been in the woods again.
She does have a different perspective, however.
"I'm getting quite picky," Kendall said. "I'm not going to shoot any small deer again."
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